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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Autism Awareness Month - What are you looking at?

Every so often you have the opportunity to step outside yourself and view yourself as others do. This kind of insight usually occurs when you least expect it. One of the [many] times this has happened to me, was on a fairly ordinary day. When I say ‘ordinary,’ I mean this in the way that ‘ordinary’ had become for us.

As I am the proud owner, [translation = temporary tenuous custody, at the best of times] of two autistic boys.

At that time, they were still on the smallish side, 39 and 45 lbs respectively, which meant that they were portable. Portable was convenient for me, because their legs only functioned on random occasions. [translation = incipient jelly legs] Added to which, they had a strong preference for being both high up and squished. [translation = the latter referrers to deep proprioceptive input, the former has yet to be formally diagnosed]

Thus if you lie on the floor screaming for long enough, preferably in stereo, you soon learn that your poor benighted mother will carry you. It is a good idea to reward your mother at this point by ceasing to cry, as this will ensure positive reinforcement and ensure that she is quicker next time. In you continue in this vein for long enough, before you know it you’ll only need to squeak a bit and just like Pavlov’s dog, she’ll scoop you up. Easy.

If we then fast forward a couple of years after this kind of exposure, we can now clearly see the woman walking out of the occupational therapist’s office towards us. As you watch, two slightly larger children, who have aged a couple of years since we began, scurry on all fours towards the woman, presumably the mother and scurry up her legs like monkeys until they are securely nestled in the waist area, one either side. You, the observer, note that they don’t appear to be twins. On closer inspection you are fairly confident that one of them is larger, probably older, but neither has much to say for themselves and at least that dreadful screaming has ceased. You find it quite odd to see three heads aligned in such a manner that has not been posed by a photographer. You cast your mind back to consider when last it was, that you saw three such heads on the same plane?

One child sucks his thumb, or hand, now that you look a little more closely. The other one has his hands planted firmly over each ear. The woman wears dark glasses, as well she might, shame on her! Now where have you seen those three heads before? That’s right! Of course! Those three little monkeys, see no evil, hear no evil…..

now don’t you say another word!

Parent nil, "monkeys" win again. "This" could be me!


abfh said...

Well, look at it this way... you'll get plenty of weight-bearing exercise and have strong bones when you're older.

Lora said...

Just stopped by to let you know that I am thinking of you and that I hope that you all had a wonderful weekend/Easter. Take care and have a great week.

Anonymous said...

OK, you are killing me. Enough with the humor, I look dumb at work for laughing. ;)

I have twins: I used to refer to the resulting upper arm strength as "Mommy guns."

Because I have preemie twins and a term singleton one year younger, all three are roughly the same size. I have a similar "other view" moment when people look at the kids and try to ascertain who is older, whether they are triplets, two must be twins - but which two?? . . .people puzzle sometimes for several minutes. In the waiting room at OT is a prime spot for that. Because my daughter, one of the twins, is also the only NT in the bunch, people naturally assume that she is older and the boys (both engaged, as you so deftly put it, in humming in stereo) must be twins.

Because they cling so well, I can still carry the twins - but not for very far. I'm amazed that you can still carry them! You must be pretty buff for a skinny chic. ;)

Anonymous said...

I can still manage the little one and he's over 40lbs now. But he leans properly so he's not total dead weight. At 5 he still has baby features and except for his height people think he's younger than he is. The big one I can't. Luckily the little one is usually an easy traveller... the eldest doesn't listen and can be mouthy... seriously, he's dangerous in a parking lot yet he has NVLD so he knows better than his bro how to behave on an outing.

I don't consider the eldests s/l delay to be an issue in day to day activities.. but an issue in answering questions like "describe", "how", "why" in the classroom. The dev ped told us the eldest has NVLD with a S/L delay = Mild PDD per the scale.

I simply just look people in the eye and tell them my child has autism if I get looks/comments. I have found once people realize what the problem is they quite often offer to help. And if I can.. I will take them up on it.


Melissa said...

"It is a good idea to reward your mother at this point by ceasing to cry, as this will ensure positive reinforcement and ensure that she is quicker next time."

OMG I am laughing so hard after reading that. That is absolutely hilarious!! Great read indeed.

kristina said...

I used to have a nice muscle in my left arm from carrying my boy----I've let it go now he is past the age of the carry.

Joeymom said...

MIne are 72 pounds and 42 pounds. They still like being settled at my waist, but I usually can only do one or the other at one time. When we started getting the Looks on Easter, my mom graciously offered the whisper of the month to those nearby: "You're seeing autism."

Girlplustwo said...

i don't have any experience with autism (yet) but am listening...

KAL said...

Well, I can certainly relate :)
(30 pounds each)

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